Thursday, July 1, 2010

Busby Berkeley

Bit Actor Busby Berkeley was in three films.  Of course, they were really cameo roles for him, since he was also the choreographer for those films, Palmy Days (1931), Gold Diggers of 1933, and Footlight Parade (1933).

Gold Diggers of 1933 is one of the best of the Berkeley films.  He didn't direct, but he was the choreographer.  I own the five DVD set of Berkeley films shown at left, with that one and other great movies.

A young Ginger Rogers has a good supporting part, in her 18th film.  She and Ruby Keeler bring a lot of beauty to this film, and Dick Powell's voice is wonderful in the Dubin and Warren tunes that I think are timeless.  But who else was in it?

At the very bottom of the list on IMDb sits Tammany Young.  The next year he was in It's a Gift with W. C. Fields as his store clerk Emmett, playing with Baby Leroy.  He died in 1936, but he started working in films in 1914 and had 126 roles.

Jane Wyman can be seen in her third movie role as one of the gold diggers.  This was 7 years before she married Ronald Reagan.  He was her third husband and she was only 33 when they married.

Sometimes I see a name and I need to write it down for further research.  This movie has a bit actor named Fred "Snowflake" Toones, who lived from 1906 to 1962 and appeared in 209 movies.  There has to be a story to his life.  It turns out he was in Way Out West in 1937 with Laurel and Hardy, his only film with the great comedy team.

Last, I can't skip Charles Lane and Billy Barty.  Both had long careers as bit actors.  Take a look at Lane's filmography here.

Busby Berkeley did his best to make the great depression a little brighter.

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